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Throwing tricks on the water

Recent Straughn High School graduate Beth Johnson hasn’t been wakeboarding long, but that hasn’t stopped her from rising to the top in her division.

“I got into wakeboarding three years ago with one my buddies Colten Meeks,” Johnson said. “Seeing people flipping on the water at the lake really caught my eye and I knew it was something I wanted to do.”

Johnson said that one day during her sophomore year on the school bus, Meeks asked her if she wanted to come ride.

0527-spt-Beth-Johnson“I had seen a lot of people at the lake riding and I wanted to try it,” Johnson said. “When Colten asked me if wanted to try it out, and I couldn’t pass it up.”

She was hooked from that day on Johnson said.

Shortly after, Johnson began competing in the INT Alabama Wakeboard league in the Entro Girls division.

The league consists of eight stops between May and August. Two first place finishes during the eight stops earns the competitor a spot in the state tournament.

Johnson finished first in the state and second nationally in her division in 2014. She finished third in state in 2015.

On May 21 and 22, Johnson competed in INT Alabama’s first of eight stops in this summer’s league. Johnson placed first on the opening day and second on day two.

“The league is a lot of fun,” Johnson said. “Pretty much you know everybody that’s there. It’s the same group from year-to-year so you become friends with each other. It’s really more like family.”

Johnson said that she will continue to wakeboard when she goes to college and would like to join a club team.

“I would like to join a club team at a school, but there just aren’t that many around,” Johnson said. “Really the only one I know of is at the University of Alabama. Wherever I am, I will still be wakeboarding.”

Johnson said that she plans on attending LBWCC this upcoming year and then plans to transfer to Jacksonville State University at some time in the future.

“I’m also joining the Marines,” Johnson said. “They have me on a deferred enrollment program so if I don’t make it to JSU or finish at LBW it will be because I’ve joined the Marines.”

Joining the Marines is something Johnson said she wants to challenge herself to do.

“I know that it will be a challenge and I love to challenge myself,” Johnson said. “The title of Marine would be nice to have and I want to challenge myself. I look it like if I can handle this than I can handle anything that is put in front of me.”

In the meantime, Johnson continues to spend countless hours on the water trying to perfect her craft.

“We practice and train year around,” Johnson said. “There is no offseason. It can get very cold out there and even though I might be out there freezing, it’s very nice and completely worth it.”

During the school year, Johnson said that she will practice for two year every day during the week and then seven hours on Saturdays and Sundays.

Johnson said that practicing her timing of runs is crucial when leading up to a tournament. The competitors have two 45-second runs where they perform a total of 12 tricks from their division and one wildcard trick of their choosing.

“Your timing on your runs have to be perfect and you can’t hesitate,” Johnson said. “Just go out their and throw your tricks one after another.”

Johnson said that she does get nervous a little before a tournament, but that she doesn’t let it bother the way she performs.

“I know I want to win so I guess I get a little nervous,” Johnson said. “I can’t let it bother me. I just have to go out there and perform like I’m just getting pulled behind my boat at home.”

The third and fourth stop of the INT Alabama series will be June 11 and 12 at Smith Lake Park in Cullman.